Brett Holman arrived at Aston Villa this summer on a Bosman deal from Dutch side AZ Alkmaar, having signed a pre-contract to join the midlands outfit back in March during the reign of Alex McLeish. The 28-year-old midfielder was the first of three new faces to boost Paul Lambert’s squad, with Karim El Ahmadi and Matthew Lowton also added to the ranks in recent weeks:
Holman’s attacking threat is likely to add plenty menace to a side that struggled for goals last season under the defensive-minded McLeish and, while there are fears he may not feature in Lambert’s plans, the former Norwich boss has been quick to assure the Australian he will get a fair crack of the whip following the previous manager’s dismissal:
“If there is one lad who has probably got a bit of trepidation, then it would be Brett because it wasn’t me who brought him to the club. But I have spoken to him to reassure him and he will get a right fair chance. He did well at Alkmaar so I don’t have any worries about him on that score. As long as he works hard and tries to be successful, then he will be the same as everybody. He will get a chance.”
Holman’s career in his native country kicked off in the youth set-up at Northern Spirit before he was snapped up as a 17-year-old by Parramatta Power in the 2001-02 campaign. He managed five goals and a couple of assists in 13 first-team appearances before sealing a move to Feyenoord in 2002 but failed to feature for the Dutch giants – the following four seasons saw Holman farmed out on loan to SBV Excelsior where, over the course of 134 league appearances, he returned 39 goals and 23 assists.
The Australian’s impressive attacking displays saw him move to another Dutch club, NEC Nijmegen, where he produced 13 goals and six assists over 59 games before Louis Van Gaal signed him for AZ Alkmaar in the summer of 2008. Holman lasted four seasons at the club and also worked under Dick Advocaat, making a total of 96 league appearance and returning 15 goals and 20 assists. Last term was by far his most successful from an attacking perspective, with five goals and 11 assists earning him two prestigious accolades in his native country – Holman was voted Player of the Year by the Professional Footballers Australia and Football Media Association’s International Player of the Year.
The new manager’s propensity for attacking football should certainly boost Villa’s prospects going forward next season. Last term saw the midlands outfit register a mere 37 goals, the second lowest total in the Premier League and considerably less than Lambert’s Norwich; the Canaries netted 52 goals, a tally only beaten by the top six.
Certainly, Holman got off to the perfect start last weekend at Burton Albion. On as a second half sub, he grabbed the decider in a 2-1 victory to ensure Lambert kicked off his tenure as Villa boss with a win. Holman also started and completed an hour of last night’s 1-0 win over Philadelphia Union.
The Australian is able to play on either flank as well as a second striker and his adaptability could prove vital when assessing his potential game time for the season ahead. With Charles N’Zogbia likely to pick up the most investment from the Villa midfield as a result of renewed expectations, Holman should fly under the radar, though question marks hang over his ability to make an instant impact in his new surroundings.
From a Fantasy Premier League (FPL) perspective, N’Zogbia’s 6.5 valuation could well be a significant factor in how we assess Holman. The former Wigan man started last term at 7.5 and, while he failed to fire under McLeish, his proven returns at his previous club are likely to bring investment his way. At 6.0, Holman is just a tad cheaper, though his acquisition represents more of a gamble, given he’s a newcomer to the league. Intriguingly, the Sky Sports game have handed both an identical value of 5.7 in the mid-price bracket.
Looking at the fixture list, the midlanders have been afforded the perfect opportunity to banish the memory of last season from the off. Home clashes against Everton, Swansea and West Brom in the first six Gameweeks look prosperous and with trips to promoted pair West Ham and Southampton, Lambert’s side may well be quick out the blocks. If Holman can nail down a regular role, the Australian may very well be one to watch.
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For Gameweek 38
- van Persie
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“I am happy with the way I’ve started, but on the other hand, I should have scored four or five more, so that’s something for me to work on.”Robin Van Persie talks about his early form at United ahead of his first Manchester derby